Tuesday, January 02, 2024

YELLOW RICE CAKE

Over on a food site someone mentioned a product that a friend brought back from her home town whenever she visited. Now, in relation thereto, I should mention that if I did that it would be cheap cigars, but those are no longer made there (the last manufactury closed in the late nineties), and if it were provincial specialties, perhaps cheese, perhaps some kind of high fat pastry popular during the Middle Ages. The town a few miles westward is luckier in that regard: dark beer.

Seeing as I live in San Francisco now, sourdough.
As well as our notorious superior attitude.

But I digress. Meizhou (梅州 'mui jau') is predominantly Hakka, and one of the local famous food items is 黄粄 ('wong paan). Which is New Year's "cake" (年糕 'nin gou') made of yellow glutinous rice flour, water, and a sweetener. It requires a local type of rice called 大禾米 ('taai wo mai') which is mountain grown, sown in Spring, planted mid Summer, harvested early Winter. Very easy on the digestion.

The word 粄 ('paan'; traditional Hakka snacks and sticky sweets made from glutinous rice) is a relatively new character (meaning that it is actually more than a thousand years old, but it didn't exist during the Spring and Autumn period.). A reconstruction of a possible seal script version of the character would look like this:
RICE FRAGMENTS (米) ON THE LEFT, A HAND HOLDING AN ANGLED OBJECT ON THE RIGHT
(反) WHICH BY ITSELF MEANS 'RETURN', 'REVERSE', AS THE PHONETIC COMPONENT.
A HOMOPHONE AND ANALOGOUS CHARACTER 板 MEANS PLANK OR SLAB.


Like many versions of New Year's cake, it is good pan-fried with chives or garlic sprouts as a savoury dish. Hot sauce may be glopped on top, or liang pan sauce.

凉拌汁
[LIANG PAN SAUCE ('leung pun jap); "cold mix juice"]

4 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS black vinegar
1 TBS chili oil
1 TBS fragrant sesame oil
2 Tsp sugar
1 Thumblength ginger, peeled and minced
2 (or more) garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 scallions, minced

Whisk together, and drizzle over sliced blanched vegetables, cold cooked noodles, steamed dishes, slow simmered fatty pork slices. Or, in this case, your fried wedges of nin gou.
Also great on boiled noodles with shredded roast chicken.
Chili paste may be added. Which I do.



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